Prisoners Report on Conditions in

Texas Prisons

Got legal skills? Help out with writing letters to appeal censorship of MIM Distributors by prison staff. help out is a media institution run by the Maoist Internationalist Ministry of Prisons. Here we collect and publicize reports of conditions behind the bars in U.$. prisons. Information about these incidents rarely makes it out of the prison, and when it does it is extremely rare that the reports are taken seriously and published. This historical record is important for documenting patterns of abuse, and also for informing people on the streets about what goes on behind the bars.

We hope this information will inspire people to take action and join the fight against the criminal injustice system. While we may not be able to immediately impact this particular instance of abuse, we can work to fundamentally change the system that permits and perpetuates it. The criminal injustice system is intimately tied up with imperialism, and serves as a tool of social control on the homeland, particularly targeting oppressed nations.

[Abuse] [Wynne Unit] [Texas]

Warden harassing wives visiting in Texas

On July 2nd, 2016 my wife came from Texarkana to the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, Texas. What happened after our four hour contact visit is as follows:

Pam (wife) was leaving the unit. She had her car searched by a male TDCJ guard who accidentally pushed the lock button and closed the door (with the keys inside). "Pam is mentally disabled" and became sick from the heat after standing by her locked car for over an hour while someone looked for a clothes hanger. The guards allowed her to cool off inside.

The unit warden - Warden Strong - has been called. She questions Pam on who she came to see. The warden's harassment starts the moment Pam says my name. Bad mouthing me to Pam, she then takes Pam to a building to use the phone. The warden instructs her to call my mother. Warden Strong is on the phone with my mother bad mouthing me. When she sees the call is not to her advantage she hangs up on her, turns to Pam and says "She is a b***h isn't she?" Disagreement cost her a ride back to her car. The warden made her walk back.

Back at the car Warden Strong is telling several TDCJ guards that what happened or happens next is not TDCJ responsibility. The warden tells Pam that she needs to break a window, if not she will, or call the Fire Department, or a tow truck to get the car off TDCJ property. With all of this unprovoked harassment/bullying Pam finds a rock, strikes the window several times and when it shatters Pam cuts her hand. At no time during Pam getting sick from the heat, to cutting her hand on the window did Warden Strong allow first aid or provide it. Not even a band-aid.

Pam's treatment by Warden Strong had Pam so upset that she almost ended up in Dallas. Upon her getting on the proper highway she got a ticket for excessive speeding. "Thank God it wasn't worse." At first Pam was afraid to go forward with this. Now she isn't. She is concerned about retaliation to her, our families, or myself.

[Campaigns] [Jordan Unit] [Texas]

Unresolved Grievances, Stolen Mail

I would like to receive the latest Texas Activist Pack. My main concern here is the petition to ensure our grievances are addressed. I personally have about twenty-five grievances that have been blatantly ignored and unlawfully answered pertaining to theft of mail, theft of personal property, denial of access to the law library, unlawful disciplinary procedures, and constitutional violations.

I have contacted the Postal Inspector seeking to file criminal charges for mail fraud, and theft of mail. I am awaiting a personal interview. I had began a campaign to file a Federal civil action for theft, redress of grievances, and unlawful acts. Yet while doing investigating work in the law library I was suddenly denied access to the law library about four months ago by only being scheduled during required programatic activities.

[Abuse] [Texas]

Ex-TDCJ Officer Confirms Corruption

I am an ex-officer for TDCJ (as in very recently.) I can probably answer questions you may have about the training that is given and other insider information. Being on both sides of the fence has opened my eyes to a lot.

For instance, you are correct as to the corruption of the discipline courts. I myself have been ordered to lie about them and at court hearings of inmates. A flat-out lie that cost some inmates good time and classification levels. All done in fear for my own job and the rank higher than me.

I can also say now after being incarcerated for approximately 10 months that I have found that it's the system itself that makes the offenders act the way they do. I am here just to do my time and get out but the officers are the ones who make it so I can't.

The TDCJ system is corrupt and needs to be cleaned up. The offenders would be happier ans the officers would also do better.

[Abuse] [Connally Unit] [Texas]

Fighting TB Exposure and Medical Neglect in Texas

I did receive your 2 page legal packet a while back and am very disappointed that none of the legal packets I've requested were sent to me. Your small packet is correct and I know it but I still need the things requested. I also need the name and address (again) in which I am to send donations to. It's wiser to put that into in everything you produce off the rip. I've been suffering retaliations that have consisted of depriving me of my property for the sole purpose of destruction so don't waste time, please, with your actions.

You people talk about being down with our struggle, which is real, and I thank you for actually being a part of the struggle. My struggle has changed for the worse as the prison officials conspired with medical staff to expose me to a prisoner who had active tuberculosis in which I've contracted the air borne disease. As a retaliation, I've been neglected medically due to my legal position and advocacy. This shit's real down here in Texas. I'm suffering any and every retaliative adverse action you can think of, from staff placing gang hits on me an attempting to bring gang members contraband as they've duly attempted to orchestrate the hit or allowing it to take place, to seizures of my property for the purpose of deprivation and destruction, to exposing me to tuberculosis infected prisoners whom I've contracted the air borne disease from, to medically neglecting to treat me as a "TB" carrier which is causing my symptoms to worsen due to medical neglect as a conspired action to punish me.

I have been advised by numerous staff and medical personnel that if I will drop my lawsuit and stop filing grievances, I will be given medical treatment, and IF I continue to file legal work (lawsuits and grievances), I will be left to die in this prison system as they will continue to deny me medical care or treatment. This shit's Real Comrades. This ain't no Game!! My Life is targeted and I'm (still) fighting but I need (Real) distance not just talk of assistance or advocacy. I'm a good standing member of the "Texas Prison Justice League" for over 2 years now and they ain't allowing me to participate in any of the ongoing programs as many "white offenders" are allowed to participate in.

I'm the same exact kind of Black Man 2Pac Shakur was so "still I rise" in my struggle, but I need Real help cuz, not just fancy intros. Real talk! Breeds correct revolutionary actions.

I need your newly upgraded version of the (Texas grievance packet) cause my property was destroyed. I need every piece of legal material I've priorly requested. I need real contacts to serious contacts whom will contact me back and help me right now. Fuck ACLU and NAACP cause they are bullshitters whom just talk and they are money hungry and don't care. My life is on the line literally and I need the name of the guy whom filed the lawsuit against Connelly Unit, concerning rec denials in which y'all advertise in Under Lock & Key March/April 2016, No. 49 because I'm now on Connally Unit being retaliated on and I need more info on what kind of unit I'm dealing with. I have Black Panther running through my bloodline so my fight is more than meaningful and more than personal.

I'd like to join his lawsuit and push it to a class action to add the inadequate medical care system and the failure to protect from prisoner on prisoner assaults and staff assault which I'm currently experiencing. I'd like to help the prisoner step his legal skill up. He's wasting valuable time, wasting paper and effort and with 10 or 8 more civil rights groups who (say) they are about that life, when they really aren't. I can show him what he needs to do is file a writ of mandamus after he amends his complaint and adds regional directors and executive director Brad Livingston and file an injunction order against them two added parties. He's taken the steps to file the civil suit, but he needs a little help pushing it. Concerning these matters, "We are walking alone"!!

Comrades, I'm coughing and having severe night sweats because of the tuberculosis that is not being treated, so don't waste time with delays. My life is important and my life is on the line every single day as I live this struggle that all of you talk about thing down with. If you could see my struggles live a lot of you would cry in tears because the system I'm fighting is so, so fucked up and is nothing close to rehabilitations.

I've watched many, many comrades fall off and give up due to retaliations and racist influences. I fear no man!!, and I don't just advocate for me alone. I'm about my money, but I ain't got the money yet, nor change, so I keep going harder. I don't have shit!! No pen pal, no support system, no money. However, I do have the heart of a lion, the mind of a fox and the character of a kind. I need (real help). I also need all of the legal things I've requested in order to keep my fight alive. I'm not attempting to be rude, but I am real.

[Abuse] [Censorship] [Hughes Unit] [Texas]

Texas confiscating magazines more than 6 months from print date

I am writing now to inform you of a new tactic TDCJ is using. We have been on lockdown and yesterday they searched and ransacked what little property we have. They confiscated 16 magazines from me, all political including 5 issues of ULK. I was told to throw them away or I would receive a contraband case. The reason is because the magazines were 6 months from date of print. I told them I contested this because I have never seen the rule posted anywhere and it is not in the offender handbook. They got angry with me when I told them I am still entitled to due process and that the policy should be posted somewhere. They gave me a pink slip that stated an officer confiscated 16 magazines because they were 6 months from date of print. Later the sgt called me out and asked to see my pink slip. He tore it up and returned the magazines.

Out of 100 people out there I was the only one who protested magazine confiscation and risked a disciplinary case. My magazines and issues of ULK are important to me because they are a tool I have to educate interested people. So have you heard of this policy in TDCJ before? Has anyone else wrote to you about 6 month old magazine confiscation? I bet Prison Legal News would be interested in this. So I just wanted to inform you of this. Something about it strikes me as wrong. A lot of peoples various magazines have been thrown away in recent days. I am in slavery and work for TDCJ for free so I have no income. When my family spends 40-50 bucks on a subscription that is a lot of money to me. I am also very thankful for ULK. Please look into this issue.

[Abuse] [Polunsky Unit] [Texas]

Hostil Environment, Grievances Tossed at Polunsky

While incarcerated here at the Polunsky Unit, G4's Level Offenders are repetitively being harassed, in the form of stop & frisk which generally lead to being restrained and to PHD (lock-up) on bogus and trumped up disciplinary infraction. Almost all these events happen while proceeding to the chow hall for breakfast 0400 hour. Whereas 95 percent of prisoners are Black offenders being harassed for no apparent reason beside wanting to eat.

Also, Prison Officials have created a hostile environment and continue to endanger prisoners lives through their constant threats & abuse of power to lockdown mass of inmates behind one prisoner who violated a single infraction. These forms of social control have lead to prisoners policing prisoners and threatening each other with physical violence if prisoner cause unit to go on lockdown.

The grievance system here does not work for the prisoner. When filing such grievance that can stand on its own merit, it is hardly ever we will receive an answer, or for that matter it being acknowledged. It is common practice for the Grievance Investigator to throw-away grievances and deliberately disregard the rules regulations and the safety of prisoners.

Therefore, I have taken the matter up with my family and asked them and offenders to have their family to contact TDCJ OMBUDSMAN about grievances being thrown away.

It is the responsibility of the OFFENDER GRIEVANCE PROGRAM, ATTORNEY GENERAL AND REGIONAL DIRECTOR about the conspiratorial practice to violate inmate's First, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment Rights to file grievance and your administrative exhausted. This report of prisoners grievance only precede me a standardized response that amounted to nothing. The prisoners are not so much afraid to file lawsuits, but they know that the deck is stacked against them so why waste $400 filing fee. Goes to say, "if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything."

[Abuse] [Coffield Unit] [Texas]

Denied Showers and Clean Clothing at Coffield

On the Coffield unit we are currently on our bi-annual lockdown/shakedown. During this time, we only receive showers three times a week, with clothing, socks and boxers only issued on a prisoners shower day (Mon, Wed, and Fri). However, while policy allows showers and clothing only three times a week (with the exception of lockdown workers), prisoners are required to be issued clean socks and boxers daily. The administration is failing in this regard.

To top matters off, prisoners are being limited to three minutes in the shower before the water is cut off. This adds to a total of 9 minutes of shower time over a seven day period. Factor into that situation the Texas heat and you have a recipe for ripe, unhygienic, hyper thermal prisoners roasting, possibly to death, in lockdown cells.

I have written to the building major about this and will file a grievance in the next few days. Enclosed is a copy of my letter to the major and I will keep you updated on any grievances and/or other feelings.

Major De La Rosa
RE: Offender showers, necessity issue, and impermissible offender conduct

Dear Sir:

On 01 June and 03 June, offenders on P3 were given only three minutes to shower. After the elapsed time, officer Garcia ordered the offenders working in the necessity issue room to turn off the water supply and told the offenders remaining in the shower to exit after the water had been cut off.

Clothing was issued on a one-for-one basis, which meant that each offender only received one pair of boxers and one pair of socks on their shower day (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday).

Allowing offenders only three minutes to shower, for a total of nine minutes over a seven day period, is unreasonable, unhygienic, and ruing extreme summer temperatures, potentially deadly.

Policy requires that offenders be given clean boxers and clean socks seven days a week. Under the current practice, offenders are given undergarments only three days a week.

A.D. 03.02 "Impermissible Offender Conduct" prohibits any offender from granting or denying access to any activity, which includes showers. By ordering the offenders in the necessity issue room to turn off the water supply, denying shower access to the offenders in the shower room, officer Garcia has impermissibly recruited offenders as enforcers.

The building is on lockdown schedule and it is understood that some activities will be restricted. However, showers, necessity issue, and the impermissible use of offender enforcers are not included in any of the policies that have been suspended.

[prisoner name]
[Abuse] [Censorship] [Stiles Unit] [Texas]

Texas harassing jailhouse lawyers

I am writing to send you back the unconfirmed mail form showing that I have not received any of the letters/documents on these dates in the mail. My mail from you and other places like your organization is not coming to me because the information is very much useful to me due to the upcoming civil suit so if the mail isn't legal then I may not get it just like the dates you sent my mail and I did not receive.

I'm a jailhouse lawyer for National Lawyer Guild out of New York so you can pretty much see why I'm having problems getting indigent supplies so I can send out legal and regular mail. This unit is harassing/retaliating against me for complaints and grievances against the unit administration. I was placed in 11 bldg transient being treated like I committed a crime and was handcuffed everywhere the officers took me and took all my recreating inside/outside, chapel services, law library sessions, medical appointments, and kept me in a cell for 24 hrs for 33 days. I'm still being denied to see a medical provider since April 2016.

This unit is overcrowded in violation of Ruiz v. Estelle court order/ final judgment and has reached our 100% capacity. I'll be very lucky if you get this letter and mail form that you sent me.

[Organizing] [Texas] [ULK Issue 56]

Struggling for Unity Through Study

The real task before us is to convince prisoners that struggling for pecuniary aims solely is to struggle for nothing more than a piece of the imperialist pig pie. I myself don't give a fuck as to whether prisoners get paid or not, just as I was not concerned with the whining "Occupy Wall Street" labor aristocracy complaining when their opulent pig lifestyles were compromised by the "Great Recession" of '08. Good! But I am encouraged there are some stirrings of dissent from Texas prisoners regarding conditions of confinement. It is before us now to harness and direct this dissent into revolutionary channels.

Since beginning this letter I have been approached by a prisoner housed in my wing. This prisoner, "Ivo," avowed themselves to be communist. Ivo receives ULK. Ivo was born in Honduras, but raised in the United $tates. Ivo is a Guevarista. I have initiated and opened a channel of dialog with Ivo and a Black prisoner, "Mississippi." Mississippi has preferred access to the MLM - MIM materials I have available. I have broached the subject of forming a study group with these two. The idea was received rather coolly by both. The three of us are to meet this weekend to discuss it. Ivo says they have serious reservations concerning the MIM line. When we meet I will inquire of their position regarding MIM's 3 main principles. As for me, as it is for MIM, these principles are fundamentally decisive.

MIM(Prisons) responds: We print this letter as an example of the hard work required to build unity. This comrade demonstrates how to build common ground with others, and then studying together to discover areas of disagreement and build greater unity. Of course there will be times when we find that we have disagreements too significant to continue working together. For us (and for this writer) those questions are summarized in our dividing line questions. Any other differences we consider to be non-divisive and things we can struggle through or put to the side in the interests of united action and the greater anti-imperialist movement. We also need to keep in mind that those who disagree with these dividing line questions are not enemies just because of that disagreement. At this stage in the anti-imperialist struggle these folks are still potentially valuable allies in the united front against imperialism, even if they are not communists.

[Abuse] [Estelle High Security Unit] [Texas]

Stories of Regular Threats Prisoners Face at Estelle

The 11th day of May, 2016, one Nigerian prison guard, Chinoso Uguwu, refused to provide a cell ingress and egress as required. Uguwu and I became embroiled in a heated verbal confrontation.

Uguwu: "I fuck your mother! You are goat's penis, fucker of your own mother!" No biggie. Just another day in the life...
But, Uguwu: "I promise you this, Boko Haram will kill you! This I promise!"

I immediately went to the picket officer working my assigned wing relaying the incident to them, asking them to identify Uguwu as Uguwu refused to identify himself.

The picket officer could not identify Uguwu.

En route to the midday feeding I approached one Sgt. R. Eisneros informing the Sgt as to the incident at issue, asking the Sgt to identify Uguwu. Cisneros assured me I would be provided Uguwu's name posthaste.

Returning from the midday feeding I approached an officer working my assigned wing's corridor ("The Gauntlet"), officer G. Flowers. I informed Flowers that Uguwu had threatened to have me executed at the hands of Boko Haram, a Nigerian affiliate of Al-Qeada. (None of the amerikan prison guards was familiar with Boko Haram). At this juncture Uguwu interrupted stating to Flowers, 3 hours after the fact, they had written a disciplinary report on me for threatening to inflict physical harm on Uguwu, a TDCJ officer. Flowers then did restrain my hands behind my back and began to lead me to an isolation cell in an isolation wing.

En route to isolation, Flowers led me past the 1/8 mile "Gauntlet's" central desk. Where I was accosted by a lieutenant and two of the lieutenant's henchmen: J. Pittcock and L. Bowers. Upon arriving at the central desk I was immediately met with threats of physical assault by the lieutenant, Pittcock and Bowers. (Bowers seemed to be fixated by the fact I was in restraints.) After acknowledging their threats by stating I didn't care what flew out de pie hole. Whatever de thinkin' 'bout doin' done been tried before. I ain't gonna say de won't do it, but I promised de wouldn't get away with it. Yadda, yadda, yadda... In response the lieutenant stated: "I don't give a fuck what's on your travel card." (Being a "Ruiz Litigator, Litigious/Radical Offender" is both a blessing and a bane. This is the bane.) They, the lieutenant, Pittcock, and Bowers, would escort me to isolation themselves, relieving Flowers while promising me the "ass whoopin' of my life" once arriving at the isolation wing.

I'm an old hand at this and am good at exhibiting a nonplussed demeanor in the face of such adversity, but ice cold trepidation was running through my veins. I thought the end was here.

Before arriving at the isolation wing I was escorted to the prison infirmary per a pre-isolation physical. Throughout the physical the lieutenant, Pittcock, and Bowers described in graphic detail the imminent beating I was to receive, Bowers going so far as to tightening the manacles restraining my hands behind my back to a painful degree.

The attending nurse during this physical would not clear me for isolation placement due to high blood pressure. (I am currently being treated for low blood pressure. I was very pissed and very afraid. Fight or flight mode). Pittcock ordered the physical to end instructing the nurse to write me up for disobeying an order for not lowering my blood pressure!

Gotta luv it!

Once arriving at the isolation wing I found it difficult to concentrate due to apprehension and all the commotion in the isolation area. Seems my arrival was anticipated. Miraculously, I was deposited in an isolation cell unmolested, though Pittcock lingered to inform me, had they been in charge they would've had me "aired out." I responded I had fully expected such, feigning disappointment.

About an hour after being placed in isolation the lieutenant appeared - apologizing! (the blessing) The lieutenant instructed I would be released from isolation and allowed to return to my assigned housing location after shift change as they did not want me to return to my wing while Uguwu was still in attendance; and a disciplinary action would not be pursued against me per the incident at issue.

Approximately 14:30 hrs, I was released form the isolation cell, but rather than being allowed to return to my assigned housing unit, I was placed in an administrative segregation shower located in the isolation wing. I remained in the Ad-Seg shower until 21:30 per the orders of Sgt. K. Owens and Lt. W. Wyatt. This shower was damp, inundated with black mold and reeked of mildew and urine. It was like being confined to an old gas station bathroom along Route 66.

I was served the evening meal there. The 28th day of May 2016, at the evening feeding, a Nigerian officer working the dining room serving line absolutely refused to serve me a dinner tray. I then noticed Uguwu in close proximity surveying the scene. I then went to a kitchen Sgt. who did provide me an evening meal. As I was partaking of the evening meal Uguwu approached me again threatening: "I am coming for you, and when I get you, don't cry."

I informed the kitchen Sgt. and, of course, filed an administrative grievance outlining Uguwu's transgressions. As of this writing I have yet to be notified of any remedial action taken.

As I said, another day in the life...

The 2nd day of June 2016, Officer Okocha threatened to pepper spray me for attempting to read Okocha's name plaque per forthcoming administrative grievance. Okocha pulled and aimed a canister of pepper spray at my visually impaired eyes, ostensibly because I was too close (approx 5 ft.) to Okocha. During this encounter, Okocha was screaming unintelligibly attracting the attention of a Sgt. that ordered Okocha to stand down.

These are common occurrences at the Estelle Unit. A hospital unit housing many disabled and impaired prisoners, infamously for assaulting and abusing the prisoners assigned here!